Sharp increase in requests to send abortion pills to the United States

Since the cancellation of the right to abortion by the Supreme Court, requests from American women to have abortion pills delivered from abroad have increased sharply in the United States. This is the result of a study published on Tuesday in the scientific journal JAMA.

The researchers analyzed the number of requests to the paying telemedicine service Aid Access, which prescribes and sends abortion pills from abroad to 30 American states. It operates outside the American health system, and was precisely designed to circumvent prohibitions or access difficulties, by allowing women to abort alone at home.

160% increase in requests

Since the end of June and the court decision, many states have made abortion illegal or have severely restricted it. Prior to the Supreme Court ruling, Aid Access was receiving an average of 83 daily requests from these 30 states. This summer, that number jumped to 213 a day, an increase of about 160% according to the study.

As a proportion of the female population in each state, the increase was highest in Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama and Oklahoma. These five states are among those that have completely banned abortions. “Current legal restrictions” were often cited by women as the reason for their request: in states where abortion has become illegal, this response was cited by around 62% this summer, compared to 31% before.

Extended travel time to clinics

This study also does not take into account other ways to access abortion pills, which are easy to find for a few hundred dollars on the Internet – but without medical support. Another study published the same day in JAMA studied the travel time for American women to a clinic performing abortions.

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This duration was on average twenty-eight minutes before the decision of the Supreme Court. It lengthened considerably, at one hour and forty minutes later. This national average hides strong local disparities. In states that have implemented a total ban on abortion or a limit to six weeks of pregnancy, the average increase in travel time is four hours, according to the study.

Lack of access to an abortion clinic is particularly a problem “for people who cannot afford to travel,” the study authors point out. In the 100 days following the Supreme Court ruling, at least 66 clinics have stopped performing abortions, according to a report released in early October by the Guttmacher Institute.

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